Everything I read influences me somehow. Sometimes books teach me how to write, how not to write, sometimes how to use a map and compass or tie knots and heal wounds. Other books teach me about myself and how to live. These are some of the books that have had the greatest influence upon me, books that I turn to time and again:
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss – Showed me that questioning conformity could yield great results, inspired me to want to break away from ‘the norm’ and create my own path. It made me realise that life is too short not to do what you love.
The Long Way Round by Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor – I read as a cynical 20-something, thinking that all the dragons on the map had been slain. This removed my blinkers and made me see that there were still adventures out there. The dragons had merely been usurped by gun totting Ukrainian mobsters. This book planted the seed of The Cycle Diaries ride to Sydney.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – I’m still learning from this book. The author spent World War 2 in a concentration camp. During this time he wrote what would become the foundation of Logotherapy. His struggles remind me to put my own into perspective. Viktor’s book taught me that between our circumstances and their result there is a gap in which we can choose how to react, where we can become the authors of our own story.
On Writing by Steven King – Steven King is a funny guy and I love his nuts n’ bolts approach to learning the writing craft. It made me believe that I could write well if I only practiced. Hence this blog and several books in progress.
Willow by Wayland Drew – What is a fantasy novel for kids doing here? I used to read this in one sitting in bed before sleeping. It made me yearn for the unknown, pine for a swashbuckling adventure and believe that the little guy could come out on top…
Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett – Sir Terry Fucking Pratchett is where my love of literature started. I remember the instant it happened. I was sat on the edge of my bed reading the section of the book where three of the city guard, Carrot, Nobby and Seargent Colon tried to manufacture a million-to-one chance in order to kill a dragon. The scene was beautifully ludicrous and made me laugh out loud, the first time I’d ever had an uncontrolled emotional outburst through reading.
You may well ask where are the biographies of great adventures and their tales of expeditions gone awry, surely recommended reading for a wannabe explorer! I have read some but they don’t inspire me to out and seek adventure. I find well-written fiction far more compelling. An amazing piece of fiction can snap you out of your daily routine and, although the story could be about a dwarf magician fighting an evil witch, can draw your attention to some deeper truth about your life. I’m not suggesting that a great biography couldn’t do the same, it’s just I haven’t found one that does yet. I guess I’ll just have to keep reading.